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My mother in law lives in an apartment connected to our house. We moved her from CA to be near us and had this apartment built. We see her every day, sometimes in a quality way and sometimes just to say hi and/or discuss logistics. But she has always had anxiety/depression and it's gotten stronger as her memory has gotten weaker, despite now being on antidepressants. She's said many, many times that she needs the companionship of people her age, and it's been clear that no matter how much time we give her (while also living our lives), it's not enough. So when a spot opened in an assisted living place nearby that she's wanted to live in, we encouraged her to say yes, and she did. She'll be moving in 2 months.


But now she thinks we're pushing her out in order to get another family member (her stepson) in, which just isn't true. And she says she never sees us, that it's like she has "no family", that no one cares about her. It's so not true and we have tried SO hard to do whatever we can to make her life happier. This seems to be deep-down emotions now surfacing, which means that it's almost impossible to convince her that what she's feeling is not the truth. We're also too busy w/ our own lives (we have a 6 year old, jobs, etc) to do much more than we're currently doing.


Any advice or simply words of wisdom/encouragement? It's so hard to watch her suffer--but also so frustrating to hear her accuse us of neglecting her when we try so hard!

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Have you talked to the psychiatrist who is prescribing the meds? It sounds as though there needs to be a change, either in dosage or a different med altogether, or an additional one.
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amandaa Feb 19, 2019
Thanks--you may be right. We did increase the dosage a while back, but it seemed like she became more confused, so I think we lowered it again (my husband's in charge of that so I'm not positive). But we'll ask the doctor. She did mention that elderly women w/ dementia and depression tend to be very hard to treat :(
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Is there an adult daycare program at the Assisted Living that she could attend prior to moving in?

Seniors feeling isolated is a problem all over. Especially when they no longer drive, or move to a different community to be near family. And sometimes they create isolation due to their behaviour.

It sounds like you all had great intentions when your mil moved to be closer to you. But losing her community and circle of friends was harder for her than she expected. You have busy lives and cannot provide the level of social interaction that she needs. It sounds like your new plan of assisted living is for the best.

Her accusations of your and your family not loving her will drive you further apart, which is sad. My former mil lives 2 miles from my house. In the 28 years I have known her, every conversation turns into complaints about her ex husband (divorced in 1985 and she has remarried and been widowed) 'Woe is Me' and it is very tiresome. My adult son, who lives with me avoids her, because of her words and actions. She is not capable or willing to change her behaviour, so her grandson does not visit more than a couple times a year. My Mum lives 3 miles away and my son is happy to see her (although feels guilty that he does not see the other one) on a regular basis.
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amandaa Feb 19, 2019
Thank you! Yes, the accusations are really hard to take, esp when they're not true (otherwise I'd address them and make changes).

The problem is that she's always been lonely, even in her old home in CA--so this is really the chickens coming home to roost, ie she can no longer block out or ignore the loneliness she's always felt.

Adult daycare at the assisted living place is a great idea--I'll look into it.
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Amandaa, please realize that "you didn't break her and you can't fix her." In other words, you are not responsible for her emotions. You really can't change how she feels. For your own sanity and quality of life, try to take a step back and try to figure our how *you* can best survive *her* journey.

You've had some good suggestions here: approach it from a medical standpoint, check with her doctor, see if her meds can be adjusted. But you also recognize that this is a pattern of behavior for this woman: she has a history of anxiety and depression and it's getting worse, and it's becoming difficult or unbearable for you to live with.

She's not likely to change, except to get worse over time, so the question is, what can you do to maintain your sanity? You can ignore, tune it out, not respond, treat it as background noise or respond with humor, if that works for you, knowing that whatever your response is, it is not about affecting or influencing or changing her so much as it is about getting you through the next few minutes or hour or episode or day.

Bottom line: you cannot change the way she feels. You can only change the way you deal. Remember the Serenity Prayer? God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (my MIL), courage to change the things I can (myself), and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Peace and joy to you. You are a brave and loving person.
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amandaa Feb 20, 2019
As I said to Nancymc, your response is terrifically helpful. I read it to my husband too. It's easy keep trying to do more and more, but this gives me some perspective and reassurance that what we're doing is enough. Thanks so much.
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Don't let her play on your guilt ! You have already done plenty to show that you care. Remind her of the good things she can look forward to in AL, and that she herself wants company with other seniors. Social activities are usually abundant in these places. Emphasize the positive. Repeat as needed. I would also probably make a point of telling her how much she matters to you and the family. Maybe give specific examples of good times or good relationships that occurred where she was an integral part. Tell her she will always be important to the family. Moving will probably be stressful and emotional (for her and all), but things will settle down in time. Maybe make plans for continued contact after her move on a regular schedule, like every Tues and Sat for instance, whatever you can reasonably handle.
It sounds like you really have been a kind and supportive presence for her. Depression can cause her to see everything through a negative filter, thus being pushed out for step son and feeling unloved. It's twisted thinking on her part. You have no reason to feel guilt. Best of luck to all of you during this transition. Let us know how things are going.
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amandaa Feb 20, 2019
Thank you so much. This is very helpful and reassuring, honestly exactly what I needed to hear.
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I think an AL is a very good idea. She will not be able to say there is no one to talk to.

The daycare at the AL is a great idea. She can get familiar with the place, residents and staff.

We can't be everything to our parents. Dementia doesn't help because they no longer reason, get self-centered and lose the ability to appreciate what you do and sacrifice for then.
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revreel Mar 5, 2019
Thank you for your last paragraph... it has helped me tremendously.
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Please, please educate yourself. Dementia can and will fool the best of us. Read, take a short class, join a support group. When you start to understand the disease it becomes easier to understand the patient and respond to what they want/need.
As an aside I would be wary of a doctor who lumps all his/her elderly females with dementia into the ‘difficult’ category. Try to find a compassionate geriatrician if at all possible. That small change made a world of difference to my mother.
My mom sounds so much like your MIL....and My mother is THRIVING in AL!! She’s gained weight and has friends. She really doesn’t remember much about her life before AL, she lives in the moment. It’s scary to implement change for a loved one, but often it’s the right thing to do. I’m sending up lots of prayers for you for strength and patience as you move through this transition.
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